A Grand Tour was a cultural tradition in the 17th and 18th centuries, a kind of educational trip for young academics from a wealthy family. At the end of their studies, they set out to visit artistically outstanding sites throughout Europe. They visited historical monuments and buildings and later discussed the impressions gained during the trip. Big Big Train are joining this tradition with their new record and are undertaking a grand tour into the past and present.
Big Big Train may have one of the silliest names in the rock scene, but the music of the Septet touches with engaging progressive sounds. Founded in 1990, the train picked up more and more speed to now stand on an equal footing with Neoprog stars like IQ, Arena, Marillion or Spock's Beard. The last band as a reference point is not surprising, as Spock's Beards Nick D'Virgilio has been sitting behind the shooting gallery of BBT since 2007. The 50-year-old is the only American in the British project whose latest album "Grand Tour" he raves about.
eclipsed: Have you tried to bring the Grand Tour tradition into the present?
Nick D'Virgilio: We have not reduced ourselves to this peculiarity in human history. Our main writer Gregory Spawton is very well read and also a great poet who loves to immerse himself in history in order to put the knowledge gained from it into a contemporary context. In "Grand Tour" some events from the past are told. Above all, however, it is about travelling in today's world. The song "Alive", for example, deals with the universal feeling of being on the move. It's about leaving your everyday life behind when you're on the road. And that you feel incredibly alive in this situation.
eclipsed: What are the differences to the last album "The Second Brightest Star"?
D'Virgilio: I don't think they're that big. But it is the case that we see ourselves as a grassroots democratic institution. Which means that everyone contributes 150 percent to this project. And the longer we act together, the further we develop ourselves and our musical vision. The constant exchange and the constantly expanding wealth of experience are our greatest assets.
eclipsed: "Grand Tour" is the first record without founding member Andy Poole. How did that affect your work?
D'Virgilio: Andy is a great guy and has shaped the sound of the band for many years. But he was not the only formative character. With us, every member has the same opportunities to get involved in the creative process. That was not easy for Andy to understand in the end. His decision to leave the Big Big Train at the beginning of 2018 was therefore only logical.